Tag Archives: asparagus

Recipe: Asparagus and Lemon Soup

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Asparagus season is just starting. One of the things I miss about moving from the Surrey countryside to London is that I no longer have a ready supply of locally grown English asparagus. I’m making do with Spanish-grown spears at the moment. As usual, being on my own, I end up having to buy more than I can comfortably eat at one time. That is where this recipe comes in. It’s a good way of using up the remains of bunches and spears that have just started to get a bit droopy.

It has a lovely, fresh taste – spring in a bowl. But be careful with the flavourings, not too much garlic and not too much lemon – you should be able to really taste the asparagus.

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Ingredients
300g asparagus spears, trimmed and sliced small
750ml light vegetable stock
4 tbsp small soup pasta shapes
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
1 sprig mint
1/2 lemon, juiced

Place all the ingredients apart from the lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Remove the mint sprig.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the lemon juice a bit at a time until the soup has a fragrance of lemon in the background.
Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Recipe: Asparagus with Avocado and Dill Sauce

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One of the sad things you learn when you start to cook is that you can’t just put all your favourite ingredients on a plate and expect them to work. It would be nice, but it rarely happens. So I was really pleased to come across this idea for ‘avocadonnaise’, essentially avocado whizzed together with lemon juice and dill. Well, that’s two of my favourite foods of all time in one sauce. It’s also asparagus season, so I thought, Why not?

Why not indeed? The dill and avocado work well together. The sauce can be made while the asparagus cooks. The whole makes a great starter where the taste far exceeds the amount of effort that goes into producing it.

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Ingredients
200g asparagus spears, trimmed
1 ripe avocado
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat a griddle pan on a high heat.
When it is hot enough, coat the asparagus spears in a little oil and place on the griddle.
Turn the heat down a couple of notches.
While the asparagus is cooking, stone and peel the avocado and put the flesh in a bowl.
Add the lemon juice and dill and mash together with a fork until you have a smooth paste.
Season with salt and pepper.
Turn the asparagus spears over to get the griddle marks on all sides.
Test the asparagus for ‘doneness’ with the point of a sharp knife in the thickest part of the stem.
When tender remove from the griddle and serve with the avocado sauce.

Serves 2 as a starter

Recipe: Asparagus and Puy Lentil Salad

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It’s nearly the end of the British asparagus season. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my local deli was still selling it on Saturday. This is probably the last recipe I’ll make with it this year, but it’s a good one.

Soaking the onions in vinegar is a tip I got from Nigella Lawson. It softens the taste of the onions and turns them bright pink at the same time – win/win!

Although this is a warm salad, it’s just as good cold.

Asparagus and Puy Lentil Salad photo DSCN1648_zps3dd3e745.jpg

Ingredients
100g puy lentils
500ml vegetable stock
1/2 red onion, halved and sliced
2 tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
bunch of asparagus, trimmed and sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Put the lentils and vegetable stock in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
While the lentils are cooking toss the onion slices in the vinegar and leave to steep.
Once the lentils are cooked add the asparagus to the pan and stir so that they are covered. Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
Drain the vinegar for the onions and whisk in the olive oil and the mint.
Pour the dressing over the lentils and asparagus.
Stir in the onion.
Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with crusty bread.

Serves 2

Recipe: Asparagus and New Potato Salad

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It’s that time of the year again! Spring! Green leaves. Daffodils and primroses! Nesting birds! And asparagus! It’s early this year. I picked some up at my local deli where they sell three bunches for a fiver. It would be rude not to buy some.

This is based on a St Delia recipe – and one that’s been something I’ve taken to barbecues for years. The asparagus stands up well to the fresh flavours. I’ve left the herbs out of this version, but a little tarragon would go nicely if you wanted to add a bit more flavour.

New potato & asparagus salad photo DSCN1148_zpsbd1f6499.jpg

Ingredients
450g new potatoes, cut into bit-size pieces
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal
Juice and zest of half a lemon
1/2 tsp mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin for preference)
3 spring onions, finely sliced

Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.
Add the asparagus pieces to the pan and cook for a scant two minutes.
Whisk the lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic and olive oil together in a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
Drain the potatoes and asparagus.
Put in a serving bowl and toss with the dressing.
Scatter the spring onions over the salad before serving.

Serves 2 as a main course salad

Recipe: Grilled asparagus with egg and green olive dressing

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I feel a little guilty about griddling asparagus, as it seems harsh treatment for such a noble vegetable. Griddling, however, does perk up a bunch that’s been hanging around in the fridge for a bit.

asparagus with egg & green olive dressing photo DSCN0735_zpsecc4b713.jpg

Ingredients
1 bunch of asparagus (about 10-12 spears)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
6 green olives, finely chopped
1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp vinegar (cider or white wine)
3 tbsp olive oil

If you have a griddle pan, coat the asparagus spears in oil and griddle on a medium to high heat.
If you are using a frying pan, heat the oil in the pan before adding the spears.
Heat them for about 4 minutes each side.
Add the olives, mustard, vinegar and olive oil to a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Season with salt and pepper.
When the asparagus is cooked, place on a plate, scatter with the chopped egg and spoon the dressing over.

Serves 2 as a starter or a light lunch with crusty bread to mop up the dressing.
If you want to make a vegan version, the dressing does very well without the egg.

Recipe: Pasta and asparagus with lemon and basil

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Asparagus season is my favourite time of year. As a vegetarian I’m really pleased to see a vegetable take pride of place on menus and cookery magazines. The British asparagus season is one of the triumphs of the culinary calendar and well worth waiting for. I’m lucky to have a nearby deli that gets a supply from a local farm. As I can’t grow it myself, this is the next best thing. Freshness is the key to the flavour. If you’re buying from a supermarket check that it’s British asparagus, the stuff shipped from Peru (why?) is only an expensive disappointment.

The first bunch on the year is only served one way – boiled and served with melted butter for dipping. After that, I start looking for something different, but I still want to retain the flavour integrity of this very special ingredient.

This recipe is nearly as simple as serving it with melted butter. I think it showcases the best of Italy and Britain – good ingredients, cooked simply and left to speak for themselves. And use the best olive oil you’ve got for this. It’s a celebration of the season.

Pasta with asparagus photo DSCN0731_zps2a301cc6.jpg

Ingredients
200g pasta (rigatoni or penne)
1 bunch asparagus (about 10-12 spears)
1 fat clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
2 fresh basil stalks, finely shredded

Put the pasta on to boil in plenty of salted water.
Break off the tough end of the asparagus spears and trim off the pointy leaves on the stalk below the tips.
Cut off the tips of the asparagus spears and slice the stalks on a steep diagonal.
Three minutes before the pasta is due to finish cooking, add the asparagus to the pan.
Add the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and basil to a bowl and mix throughly.
Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the pasta and asparagus.
Toss in the dressing and serve.

Serves 2
You can add a grating of vegetarian parmesan-style cheese, but personally, I prefer this dish without.